Compassion is a deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.
“Love doesn’t sit there like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. Le quin
“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” -- Winston Churchill
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” --George Washington Carver, (1864-1943, American botanist and educator)
“Keep in mind that the true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good.” –Ann Landers
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
--Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Here are some ways to practice compassion:
*Let someone know you care.
“Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.” --George Eliot
*Give of your time to help another.
“A kind and compassionate act is often its own reward.”-- William John Bennett
“The first duty of love is to listen.” --Paul Tillich
*Forgive someone who hurt you.
"The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath."
Activities to do with children
Make paper compassionate eyeglasses. The eyepieces could be heart shaped. Talk about seeing people and situations through compassionate eyes.
Magnetize a sewing pin by rubbing it on a magnet, and then use the magnetized pin to pick up other pins. Compassion can be compared to the force that draws the pins together. Katherine Paterson said, “Peace is not won by those who fiercely guard their differences but those who with open minds and hearts seek out connections.
This poem from McGuffey’s Second Reader was memorized by many in past generations. As a class, or family memorize:
Beautiful faces are they that wear
The light of a pleasant spirit there;
Beautiful hands are they that do
Deeds that are noble, good and true;
Beautiful feet are they that go
Swiftly to lighten another’s woe
The Boy Who Vanished: A Tale from Russia
Long ago there lived a rich nobleman with a wonderful son. Through a wicked spell, the boy disappeared just before his twelfth birthday. Although the nobleman searched thoroughly, he could not find his son. For years he mourned. Then he learned that in one of the rooms of his castle footsteps, moans, and groans were heard at midnight. The nobleman offered 300 pieces of gold to any of his countrymen who would stay in the room and discover the secret of the haunting sounds. Not far away, a poor peasant man and wife lived with their three daughters. Seeing nothing to lose, the oldest daughter volunteered to stay in the haunted room. For her stay, she requested only the equipment and ingredients to prepare a dinner. A few minutes before midnight, the fire was blazing and dinner was almost done. The footsteps and moaning started. Soon a young man, grief stricken, stood before the girl. When asked for whom the fire and the dinner had been prepared, the frightened girl replied that they were hers. The stranger’s look of anguish deepened and the figure disappeared. In the morning, the girl reported the evening’s visit to the nobleman and was paid the 300 gold pieces. Still the nobleman wanted more information and continued to offer the reward. Emboldened by her sister’s story, the second daughter volunteered to stay in the room. Equipped with the same provisions, she encountered the same ghostly figure. She, too, was asked for whom the fire and dinner were prepared. Remembering her sister’s reply and her safety, she, answered that they were hers, and only hers. The same anguished look greeted her reply, and the figure disappeared. This daughter, too, reported her adventure. The youngest daughter then volunteered to stay in the room. She took the same provisions, made the same preparations and soon the same ghostly figure appeared. When he asked for whom the fire and dinner were prepared, she answered, “I have prepared them for me.” Then she added, “But you may share them with me.” The figure smiled, the spell was broken and the peasant’s daughter reunited the nobleman with his son. The nobleman’s son and the peasant girl were soon married, lived in a beautiful castle, and lived happily ever after.
Why is it important to show compassion to those who may be frightening or repulsive to us?
Books to Share With Children
Read books that illustrate and encourage Compassion. Check your library for some of those listed here. Each one provides opportunities to discuss the results of showing Compassion.
- Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
- Miss Maggie by Cynthia Rylant
- The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
- Now One Foot, Now the Other by Tomie dePaola
Thanks to our friends at Lindon Character Connection for the content of this month’s South Salt Lake Community Character Initiative!